Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Thursday, reporter Michael Rothstein stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Thursday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:03 PM)
Hey everyone! Signing day has come, gone and is now in the rear view as Michigan has 27 more players (21 signing yesterday). Basketball season is here in full force and that Trey Burke guy is one of the top players in the country.Oh, and just a month or so until spring ball starts. So let's get to your questions.
Ed Camp Lejeune NC [via mobile]
Hoke and his staff did an excellent job again in recruiting for the 2013 class, what are the priorities for the 2014 class?
Michael Rothstein (12:05 PM)
This is going to be a much smaller class, Ed. Hoke said as of now it'll be at 16 with two players already committed for next year. Wide receiver is still a spot to look at and Michigan needs one more tight end to get to the five scholarship tight ends they would like to carry. This class, more than any of the past five or six for Michigan, is more about improving the team than absolutely filling gaps.
Jeff (Savannah, GA)
Historically, how well has Michigan recruited the state of Georgia? I ask bc there are some stud prospects in the state this year and i saw we have alrady offered a few.
Michael Rothstein (12:08 PM)
It is always tough to pull recruits out of the south, Jeff, but Michigan considers itself a school that will recruit nationally so it will try and find players from the state. But Michigan has one player on its roster from Georgia (walk-on AJ Pearson). Historically Michigan hasn't gone there a lot. The last big recruit Michigan got from Georgia was Carlos Brown.
Hey Michael, what would you say the chances are percentage-wise that Trey Burke wins National Player of the Year. Compared to the other players (Oladipo, Plumlee, Zeller) Burke has to be the best. The only wildcard I see is that McDerrmot guy who I have never seen play. Shouldn't his weak competition hurt him though?
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
Burke is in a good position right now. In my five years doing the Player of the Year poll, I've never seen the leader shift multiple times but each poll has now had a new leader -- Zeller preseason, Plumlee Poll 1, McDermott Poll 2 and Burke Poll 3. My guess is if Burke navigates the next two weeks well, he is in really good position to win the award. McDermott had a rough game against Indiana State last night (8 points) so that might catch the eye of voters. The guy I'd look at as a concern is Victor Oladipo. He has the attention of voters right now. A couple big games and he could make a run at it.
Jeff (Savannah, GA)
What is the projected class size for 2014 and what is the positional breakdown for recruits?
Michael Rothstein (12:11 PM)
Brady Hoke said the class, as it would be right now, will likely be 16 guys. That could grow through attrition, etc... As far as positional breakdown, I don't think they truly have a great idea on that just yet. Attrition, injuries and guys performing in the spring will play into it. But Michigan will likely look to wide receiver, tight end (for one guy) and on the lines still to shore up depth.
Jeff (Savannah, GA)
With Ferns and Speight already committed, who are the next five recuits that give their verbals to Michigan?
Michael Rothstein (12:12 PM)
I'm staying away from specific names in that, Jeff, but you're going to see a lot more offers go out in the next seven days. Make sure to stay clicked on http://www.wolverinenationespn.com for all that info.
Nick (Ann Arbor)
Have any info on the 2014 QB who just verbally committed?
Michael Rothstein (12:13 PM)
He's a tall, traditional pocket passer, which is what Michigan wants. He's from Richmond, Va., and Russell Wilson apparently knows him as he tweeted at him yesterday.
Who do you think win's freshman of the year in the Big Ten? Obviously Michigan has the best as a group, but that might factor against any one of them winning.
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
It's a really good question because there are a ton of strong candidates. Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III will be in the conversation and, depending how the last month goes for him, Mitch McGary might end up winning the thing. But Gary Harris at Michigan State will be formidable, as will Yogi Ferrell from Indiana, Sam Dekker from Wisconsin and AJ Hammons from Purdue. It's a somewhat wide open race. Next two weeks will be huge for it.
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
And I just realized I didn't answer your question. Right now my clubhouse leader would be Stauskas, but it's really close.
Matt (Ann Arbor)
Hoke is one coach that does not like the new recruiting rules starting soon. Many other coaches including Urban Meyer who I assumed would like the change- do not. If so many coaches are opposed to this, why is it happening? Who made the push for it?
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
The NCAA made the push for it. They experimented with it for college basketball this recruiting cycle (the 2014s) and now are expanding it to football. As Hoke said yesterday, though, and I agree with him, football and basketball recruiting are so much different. Basketball has a pool of, max, 50 recruits that a program will look at for anywhere from 1-5 slots usually. Football, well, Hoke said Michigan's initial list of players for 2014 will start at 1,500 -- yes, 1,500 -- to fill 16 or so spots. I'm all for open communications, but some of these football recruits are about to be bombarded.
As a Wisconsin student, but a Michigan fan I can't wait for the game this Saturday at the Kohl Center. My question is what is with the Badger's being tough at the Kohl Center. It's not an overly loud or intimidating atmosphere (compared with others in the Big Ten) especially with the students at the end of the court. What is your prediction for the game this weekend?
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
I have no idea why it is so intimidating to play there other than it is a really, really good fan base and Bo Ryan's teams, frankly, are always good. He is, in my opinion, one of the top 3 most underrated coaches in the country. All he does is win and win with players he develops. This might sound weird, too, but the basketballs they play with there make a difference. No one else really uses the Sterling basketball and shooters will tell you the type of ball makes a difference.
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
As for a pick, Michigan has never had good success there but I get the feeling the Wolverines win in Madison. Not sure why, just do. I think they'll be able to get out in transition, which is where they are deadly. I'll go Michigan 65, Wisconsin 58.
What are the odds Michigan can overtake Virginia Tech and land Hand
Michael Rothstein (12:27 PM)
I don't like putting odds on things but it is a good thing for Michigan that it is in Hand's Top 5.
Matt (Ann Arbor)
You mentioned that the spring game is about a month away. What player or players have the most to prove this spring? Who has the most to gain by a good spring showing? I think the DE spot is one that has to prove they will be able to pressure the QB and that Darboh and Chesson with a good spring can earn a lot of playing time or starting spot.
Michael Rothstein (12:30 PM)
Spring ball starts in a month or so. Spring game is in the middle of April. With Toussaint out for the spring and Green and Smith not on campus yet, it is a huge, huge, huge spring for Thomas Rawls, Justice Hayes and Drake Johnson to prove they should be the starting running back. If no one wins the job out of spring, Derrick Green might just take it in the fall (or a healthy Toussaint). Wide receiver and the interior offensive line will also have big competitions that are wide open. I mentioned this over on our message boards, but this is actually a big spring for Jordan Paskorz at tight end. If he can show he can play a bit, he may have a role next season.
Michael Rothstein (12:31 PM)
On the defensive side, this is a big spring for the three rush ends -- Frank Clark, Mario Ojemudia and Brennen Beyer -- to try and separate themselves. Also at the other end, where it is an open competition perhaps between one of those three guys, Tom Strobel, Keith Heitzman, Chris Wormley, etc. Linebacker could be interesting, too, as Michigan is committed to playing its two best next to Jake Ryan, which could mean a move to the middle for Desmond Morgan.
A football question this time! With the offer and commitment of a QB for 2014, do you think Michigan is done recruiting QB's for 2014 or will they try to get another? And if they are only taking one, it seems like there may have been some better options out there (out least according to "experts"). But I trust Hoke and the staff that he will fit well with what they are trying to do on offense.
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
I get the feeling, with a small class, Michigan will take only one quarterback if things stay as they are now (and obviously Devin Gardner's will he, won't he redshirt question weighs in). That said, I think they'll stay in touch with a few of them since you never know in recruiting until signing day comes and they are officially yours.
Outside of Derrick Green what incoming freshman do you think can make an immediate impact
Michael Rothstein (12:35 PM)
Jake Butt and Khalid Hill at tight end will be given an opportunity -- Butt especially since he is here early. There's a depth issue there still so they might have to play whether they are ready or not. Dymonte Thomas intrigues me in the defensive backfield, but he has some people to navigate past as well. So, too, does Taco Charlton. He's another early enrollee but will get a shot to play if he can prove himself in the spring and early fall camp. Those would be the guys I'd look at. Theoretically, Kyle Bosch might make some moves since he's at Michigan in the spring but it is tough for offensive linemen to pull that off.
How does Speights' commitment affect Shane Morris? Do either/ both redshirt?
Michael Rothstein (12:37 PM)
It has no effect on Shane Morris. Morris is committed and he had to know Michigan would take a QB in 2014 as well. Whether or not Morris redshirts likely depends on how he progresses and also how Michigan feels about Russell Bellomy after the spring. The Wolverines will only have three quarterbacks on scholarship next season, so if Morris passes Bellomy, it could get interesting. The walk-ons are Brian Cleary and Shaun Austin, but both are young guys. Jack Kennedy, who likely would be a viable-type option in an emergency, is out of eligibility and on to a music career as half of JDK and Rey.
Michael Rothstein (12:38 PM)
For those who keep asking about Wilton Speight, here's a story from our Tom VanHaaren with him: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/michigan/post?id=10069
This question doesn't really matter since Michigan won the game, but for future reference, is a shot clock violation non-reviewable? And how do the refs miss that? They had to know there was only one second on the clock and Craft took way too much time to get that shot off!
Michael Rothstein (12:42 PM)
As far as I know, shot clock violations are reviewable. But I'm not sure what happened there. As you said, though, it really doesn't matter considering the time, etc. in the game. That said, when Craft hit that I did make a note that it seemed like it would be Ohio State's night.
John (Ann Arbor)
How has Vogrich adapted to his new role on the bench? Do you think he wishes he had followed Smotrycz out of town?
Michael Rothstein (12:45 PM)
That's an interesting question, although that would have been tougher for Vogrich to pull since he would have sat for a year to play for a year. He hasn't been made available since the beginning of the season, really, so not sure exactly how he is feeling about all of this. My guess is he saw during the summer that the freshmen would be getting some time. I don't think he anticipated his role being reduced to deep mop up time, though.
Dana (Fort Wayne)
Speaking of Smotrycz, where did he go?
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
He's sitting out a year after transferring to Maryland, Dana. He should be a big contributor for the Terps next season. I actually think he'll play well there. On a personal note, he was always really good to deal with, even after he decided to transfer.
Do you think Walton could come in and start right away, assuming Bruke leaves? He looks to be a very promising player.
Michael Rothstein (12:48 PM)
If Burke leaves, yes, I could see Walton coming in and starting right away. Would actually be surprised if Walton didn't start next season should Burke leave. I've watched him play a couple of times and also watched tape on him. He is just a flat competitor and while he isn't exactly like Burke, their games are somewhat similar. He wants the ball at the end of games and is a big-time shot maker. He also has good speed and good vision. He will end up being a good, good get for the Wolverines.
Is Blake Countess a redshirt freshman this year? That would be huge! He was great before he got injured. I am assuming he redshirted with his injury last year even though he played for a short time against Alabama.
Michael Rothstein (12:49 PM)
No, Steve. Countess will be a redshirt sophomore next season. He would have three years of eligibility left. He'll get this past season back, but he played as a freshman in 2011.
Matt (Ann Arbor)
Three part question 1.Where would you rank Michigan in the "Preseason" top 25 for next season? 2. Which big ten teams will be ranked ahead of Michigan. 3. Do you see Michigan making its first Big Ten Title game?
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Three part answer: 1. I'd rank them around 20. Still some major offensive questions as well as defensive front four questions. That said, I think they could end the season much higher than that. 2. Ohio State, certainly. Maybe Northwestern and Nebraska. But those three could all be in the same range. 3. Yes, it is very possible Michigan ends up in the Big Ten title game next season. Schedule plays favorably for the Wolverines with Ohio State and Nebraska both playing in Ann Arbor. There will be some tough road games in there (Penn State, Michigan State) and going to Northwestern will be difficult, even if it ends up feeling more like a neutral site because of the crush of Michigan fans that show up at those games.
John (Ann Arbor)
OK... Canary yellow jerseys... fine. But why did they bother to put yellow names on the back? I'm looking through my game pictures and it just looks so pointless.
Michael Rothstein (12:52 PM)
It is part of the adidas Bleed Out design. A bunch of teams have worn them. Actually, those numbers were better than some of the others (Notre Dame was particularly difficult to read). Michigan didn't have too much say in it, from my understanding.
Does the Wolverines have enough to win a full NC since 1949?
Michael Rothstein (12:55 PM)
Not sure which sport we're talking about here (guessing football) but I'll answer for both sports. In basketball, Michigan has all the pieces but it depends so heavily on matchups in the NCAA tournament. A team like Louisville is not a great matchup for the Wolverines in my opinion, because the guard play can match up pretty well. Also, teams that can equal their intelligence could cause some problems. In football, I don't know if 2013 is the year because I think there are still too many young pieces. But if Michigan gets past Notre Dame in September, it could gain confidence. If the Wolverines are undefeated heading into November, all bets are off.
Michael Rothstein (12:55 PM)
About five minutes left so get those last questions in.
Matt (Ann Arbor)
How does Craft not foul out of every game? His hands are all over the man with the ball! Even my sparty friends watching the game with me could not believe he gets away with it so much!
Michael Rothstein (12:58 PM)
He is a really good defender, Matt. He is able to stay in front of guys and has really, really strong instincts. His reaction time is also really good. But so much of it is instinctual. As a defender, I actually think Victor Oladipo is slightly better, but Craft is right behind him as far as guards go.
Greg (Knoxville, TN)
How does this sound for 16: 2 WR, 1 RB, 3OL, 1 TE, 2 DE, 2 DT, 2 DB, 1 LB, 1 QB, 1 Wild card....
Michael Rothstein (12:59 PM)
That sounds not bad, but those numbers could change based on attrition, who might/might not redshirt, etc.
Michael Rothstein (1:00 PM)
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's it for me today. Thanks again for all your questions and good conversation. Have anything else for me, drop me a note on Twitter @mikerothstein or on our message board over at http://www.wolverinenationespn.com. Enjoy your weekend.